December 14, 2017 – FRN –
Why has the Middle East got up on its hind legs as Jerusalem was recognized by the US as the capital of Israel, but it did not react when Russia did almost the same thing earlier?
“We affirm our commitment to the UN resolutions on the principles of peaceful settlement, including the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state.” At the same time, we consider it necessary to declare that in this context we regard West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” Russia’s statement said earlier.
On a map of the XVI century, land is depicted in the form of a 3 leaf clover. Each leaf symbolizes Europe, Asia and Africa. In the lower left corner is America. And in the very center is the city-fortress Jerusalem. On another map dated in the Middle Ages – there too, Jerusalem is the very center of the world.
These maps were compiled in Christian Europe. But also as the center of the world, Jerusalem was previously seen by the Jews, and afterwards by the Muslims. Jerusalem is the city of the three religions. For the first Jews who found themselves there, the main shrine is the Western Wall – the Wailing Wall. For Christians – Via Dolorosa, and, of course, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. For Muslims, it’s the mosque of the Haram al-Sharif complex.
The Roman Empire, the Saracens, the Crusaders, the Ottomans, the British; many tried to gain control of the Holy Land – and also obtained it. By the middle of the twentieth century, Palestine remained a mandated territory of the British Empire. According to the UN resolution of 1947, Palestine was to be divided into Jewish and Arab states. Jerusalem in view of its religious significance was to become “a separate unit under international management.”
The Arab leaders categorically rejected the plan, and as soon as the United Kingdom withdrew its troops from Palestine in 1948, and Ben-Gurion (national founder of Israel) proclaimed the state of Israel, the League of Arab States immediately sent troops to Palestine. As a result of that war, Jerusalem was divided into western (Israeli) and eastern (trans-Jordanian) parts. At the same time, the Jewish Wailing Wall was outside of Israeli control.
During the Six-Day War of 1967, the Israelis occupied the whole city and the Wailing Wall. In 1980, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, proclaimed Jerusalem as a single and indivisible capital of Israel. Revision of this status was only possible if the majority of votes in parliament are approved by citizens in a referendum, in other words, never.
Such a formula left no remote prospect for the establishment of the capital of a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem. This was followed by a massive transfer of foreign embassies from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
Trump’s statement, in which he, unlike the Russian Foreign Ministry, never once uttered the words “Eastern” or “Western” Jerusalem. He spoke about Jerusalem in general. That is, it turns out, the city is indivisible. That it is only Israeli. Why would Trump do this?
In the White House, the Hanukkah Jewish holiday is traditionally held at the highest levels – with the participation of the US president. But this time they celebrated not only the military victory of the Jews over the Greeks, which occurred in 164 BC, but also the modern diplomatic victory over the Palestinians – in 2017.
Congress voted back in 1995 under Bill Clinton for the initiative to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the transfer of the US embassy there – but neither he nor Bush or Obama allowed the law to take effect. Every six months a moratorium was signed. Trump however, demonstratively put his signature on the bill to begin the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem.
“Many do not understand why Trump made this decision right now, I think it was important for him to say:” Unlike my predecessors, I keep my promises,” said Gai Ziv, a professor at the American University in Washington.
The decision, according to CNN, split the Trump team. Key figures of the administration were against the decision – Secretary of State Tillerson, head of the CIA Pompeo, and Pentagon chief Mattis. But another wing was in favour – presidential aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s daughter Ivanka – both followers of Judaism, “modern orthodox” denomination. Also vice president Pence, who was beaming during the signing – for him it is rather a political issue, but for those who vote for him and Trump, it is a biblical one.
Evangelical Christians – and there are 50 million people in the US – feel very warmly toward Israel. Because of the peculiarities of the American development of Protestantism, the Evangelicals believe that through the people of Israel the prophecy about the last days will come true, Jerusalem will be under the complete control of the Jews, and this is nothing more than a prologue and a necessary condition for reunion with Christ during his second coming.
There is another version to Trump’s decision – he appeased the the pressure of an American Jewish businessman, who is worth 37 billion dollars – Sheldon Adelson. He is a casino owner in Las Vegas and Singapore, and the largest sponsor of the Trump election campaign. He personally invested $ 25 million and insistently asked the White House to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“I think it was done in coordination with other countries in the Middle East, including those Arab leaders who publicly condemned the confession. I think, in private conversations with Trump, the heads of state said they did not mind. I do not think that Trump’s decision took them by surprise “, – noted Gai Ziv.
This same opinion is shared by former US Secretary of Defense, William Cohen. According to him, the Arab countries, who in theory support the Palestinians, are ready to unite with Israel against Iran.
Against this background, the representation of the Palestine Liberation Organization was nearly closed down on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington. The State Department sent employees in order to collect their things, but then softened their exchange to demand active cooperation and participating in a dialogue with the Israelis.
The direct consequence of the Trump-US decision has lost the status of mediator in the negotiations for the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Instead of being above the fight, the White House has largely, for internal political reasons, clearly and unequivocally taken the position of one of the sides.
Inessa Sinchougova is an Editor and Journalist at Fort Russ News, as well as a research fellow and translator of the Belgrade based think-tank, the Center for Syncretic Studies. She was educated at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), in the field of Political Science and was previously employed in Marketing and Communications Strategy for a Multi-National Corporation. She runs a popular YouTube channel for translations of key Russian Foreign Policy figures and appears regularly on other alternative media channels. If you like her work, you can support her Patreon here.